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Petra Mathers illustrations are bright, and actually rather sweet, if not cute, and I do much appreciate the idea that a little lamb is able to cunningly outsmart a cunning and stalking coyote (the coyote reminds me a bit of the big bad wolf, so common in European folktales and culture). That being said, there also appears to be somewhat of an inversion of the Native American trickster tale present here. In many of the former, Coyote is a trickster, and usually cleverly victorious, so it is somewhat ironic and amusing to read a Mexican folktale variation where Coyote the trickster is outsmarted. However, in the majority of Native American trickster tales, Coyote is more often than not depicted as a noble trickster, a Prometheus-like figure who uses tricks and subterfuge for good and even noble purposes. With Borreguita and her coyote stalker, however, this noble aspect of Coyote is missing, as the coyote is simply a big bad carnivore, relentlessly stalking a defenseless little lamb. While I generally rather enjoyed Borreguita and the Coyote, Verna Aardemas (translated) tale of Borreguita using her wits to outsmart her coyote stalker, I would not ever consider this type of story a personal favourite. As I have always had a soft spot for wolves and coyotes, I tend to have some problems with folktales depicting these animals as inherently bad and cunningly evil (and certainly, many folkltales about wolves and other canids do have this tendency). And I am actually quite convinced that the generally negative attitude many humans had/have regarding wolves has contributed greatly to their indiscriminate slaughter and subsequent extirpation from much of Europe and North America (brought about at least partially, no doubt, by the often negative description of these animals in both culture and lore). And one must also remember that wolves and coyotes are carnivores, so they are generally supposed to consume meat. Hunting and stalking a lamb or another type of domestic animal is therefore not evil, it is part of the nature of these animals. However, this is never (or hardly ever) mentioned in the big bad wolf type of folk and fairy tales. No, the wolves (or other canids) are more often than not portrayed as evil (or at least, evilly cunning) and not as natural predators, stalking their prey for sustenance. I know that in some of these tales, the evil wolves might, in fact, be symbols or something or someone else, but it still tends to bother me somewhat.Furthermore, by portraying the wolf (or in this tale, the coyote) as the only culprit, responsibility for the plight of the victims is also often taken from those who are meant to care for and protect those in their charge. I know that the mother goat in the Grimms tale of The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids does warn her children about the wolf, but she also leaves them home alone. And Little Red Riding Hoods mother actually sends her daughter on a solo errand into a dark forest rumoured to be full of wolves. Similarly, the farmer/owner of Borreguita, the little lamb (whom we actually only encounter on the first page of the tale) basically abandons her to her own devices. She must face the coyote by herself because the farmer is either unable or unwilling to even attempt to protect her.What I really did and continue to enjoy about this particular offering is that the coyote is not simply killed, is not slaughtered in the end. He will never bother Borreguita again, but he does not have to pay for hunting and stalking the lamb with his life. And this minor but essential factoid ansolutely makes Borreguita and the Coyote so much more acceptable than many of the other big bad wolf type of folktales, where the wolf more often than not ends up dead (and usually killed with extreme violence, and in the most horrid way imaginable).

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